How or Why?

Not long ago I heard Andy Stanley talking about being a part of change in the organization. He was describing how the ideas of the future necessarily come from the people of the future. Older generations (with very rare exceptions) don't dream up the ideas implemented by younger generations.  

Andy was talking about it from the perspective of a man who is now in his mid-forties, now straddling the fence between younger generations and older generations. His talk was about how the older generation should respond to the younger generation's ideas, and he had some advice I think is key for all of us - young or old. 

Stanley said the key is to be "What" people rather than "How people. 

When a new idea comes across your desk (or kitchen table for that matter), the key question isn't "How?". You can "how" a great idea right into the ground: "How will we pay for it?" "How will we find people to volunteer?" "How will people respond?" 

If it's a great idea, the "how" questions will take care of themselves. If it's a great idea, people will pay for it, people will invest their time into it. And if it's a great idea, it doesn't matter how people respond. That's the task of leadership. 

The questions to ask are "What" questions. You want to understand the idea before you evaluate the idea. Become a student of new ideas, even if you're pretty sure they're lousy. Be able to be an idea's strongest advocate even if you end up it's largest critic.  You don't want to cast away the great idea of the future because of ignorance today. 

Obviously, this is great advice for older and younger leaders as we evaluate new ideas. Which ideas need a "what" from you today?